by Isabelle Abdou
Social media is often overlooked in PR practice and can add serious value to journalist outreach
In this modern age, it’s undeniable that social media is omnipresent and in many ways defines the way we live and work. It is only natural then, that we should look to take advantage of the digital tools at our fingertips to enhance our professional performance. Social media is already a crucial part of public relations, usually incorporated into a digital marketing strategy for the promotion of campaigns. However, these platforms hold far greater potential for a PR executive’s outreach – particularly on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Media databases are still invaluable PR resources, but contact through social media will add a personal touch to set your pitches apart from the crowd.
Surprisingly, at 27 per cent, journalists are the largest verified group of Twitter users, surpassing celebrities, athletes and politicians. Indeed, it is a journalist’s dream to have their words reach thousands of followers at the click of a button. Twitter is unique in its capacity for open communication between users, providing the perfect way for PRs and journalists to interact. Engaging with a journalist’s posts in the form of comments and retweets will make them aware of your interest in their work – which is essential for building invaluable relationships.
Knowing and using the correct hashtags will also transform your Twitter success stories – journalists most often tweet for PR assistance with the hashtag #JournoRequest, as well as #PRRequest and #HARO (help a reporter out.) There are even some journalists who solely take pitches through Twitter. It’s time to come to journalists’ rescue with this largely untapped resource.
Tweetdeck is a website which officially links to and monitors all aspects of your Twitter account, allowing the creation of bespoke lists and searches. Forming a variety of lists on specific criteria, for example segmenting a particular group of journalists or publications relevant to your sectors, will help to refine a sometimes overwhelming Twitter feed. This not only saves time with client outreach, but will highlight the most up to date news in your sector as well as flag up any relevant journalist requests.
LinkedIn is every modern worker’s go-to resource for job development; the professional version of Facebook allows users to compile extensive experience on their profiles as well as share updates and content. This is a powerful networking platform for PRs to take advantage of, as profiles provide an abundance of information on past and present job history, educational background as well as lengthy biographies.
Connecting initially allows you to send a short note as a private message, providing PRs with the perfect opportunity to introduce themselves to journalists. Briefly summarising which of their articles you’ve enjoyed reading and mentioning any relevant topics or clients will pique their interest and maximise your chance of making a connection. Contacting journalists out of hours is also a great way to bypass a journalist’s congested 9-5 mailbox.
Journalists’ social media feeds provide invaluable information into their interests, the topics they cover and any recent or upcoming developments such as events they are attending. The biggest bugbear of any journalist is being contacted by PRs with irrelevant information or requests, which can be avoided entirely with a quick scan online. With all the information available on social media there is really no excuse for PRs to continue making these mistakes – a small amount of research goes a long way.
When used properly, social media is a powerful, underappreciated instrument in a public relations worker’s toolkit – and it’s completely free!